The Ohio State-Michigan rivalry continued this weekend, but this time, the Wolverines came out on top. The OSU softball team (25-11-1, 9-4-1) suffered its first sweep of the year at the hands No. 2 Michigan (33-4, 11-2), with three lopsided games in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
OSU junior Shelby Hursh pitched 11 innings with 10 strikeouts over the three games, taking her record to 13-5. For the Wolverines, junior Megan Betsa dominated in the circle with two complete games and 25 strikeouts.
At the plate, freshman Emily Clark continued her confident approach, hitting .500, and senior Cammi Prantl hit .333 with a double in the final game, which brought her within three of tying the program’s all-time record.
The Buckeyes opened their tough weekend with an equally tough loss, an 8-0 shutout in six innings.
Clark went 2-for-2 and redshirt senior shortstop Maddy McIntyre went 2-for-3. The pair were the only batters to record hits, as OSU struggled against Michigan junior Megan Betsa, who struck out 13.
McIntyre started the game with a single through the left side and a stolen base, but the Buckeyes left her stranded. In the bottom of the first, Michigan earned two bases after Hursh hit two batters, but she recorded two strikeouts to keep the game even.
The game remained this way until the bottom of the fourth, when the Wolverines grabbed a one-run lead after junior Abby Ramirez singled to left field to bring in junior outfielder Kelly Christner, who had reached first base on a throwing error. Despite loading the bases on Clark’s single and two walks in the next inning, OSU could not tie the game.
Michigan stretched its lead to four on sophomore Aidan Falk’s three-run shot to center field in the bottom of the fifth and pushed the margin to 5-0 on a deep triple by senior Kelsey Susalla in the following inning. The Wolverines continued to dominate at the plate with leadoff hits from sophomore Tera Blanco and junior Lindsay Montemarano and a walkoff single by Falk to end the game after six innings.
In Saturday’s matchup, the Buckeyes were able to score their first run of the weekend, but once again were overwhelmed by the home team in a 5-1 loss.
OSU left six runners stranded throughout the game, and Michigan took control of the fifth inning to score three runs with two outs. However, for the first time this season, no Buckeye struck out at the plate, which is somewhat of silver lining amid a tough three-game sweep.
Both redshirt junior Alex Bayne and sophomore Taylor White went 2-for-3 with pairs of singles, and sophomore Becca Gavin earned an RBI on a single through the left side. OSU junior Lena Springer and sophomore Shelby McCombs managed to strike out only one batter and gave up seven hits.
Like Friday’s game, Michigan scored first on a solo home run by Christner in the bottom of the second. The Wolverines took their lead to two on Susalla’s outfield single to bring in Romero.
The Buckeyes briefly responded on Gavin’s hit but could not stop Michigan’s bats from adding three more runs to the scoreboard. Freshman Faith Canfield, on her second homer of the year, senior Sierra Lawrence and senior slugger Sierra Romero recorded big hits to maintain the Wolverines’ hold on the game.
The final three innings were unsuccessful for both dugouts, especially for OSU, as its last nine batters of the game went down in order.
Michigan, once again, scored first on a throwing error from behind the plate by Gavin. In the bottom of the third inning, a sacrifice fly to right field by Blanco brought in Lawrence to make the game a 2-0 battle.
While OSU got runners aboard, it could not send them around the bases to score. Through the first three innings, the Buckeyes left four stranded with only one hit. White brought the Wolverines’ lead to one with a leadoff inside-the-park home run in the fourth inning, but Gavin, junior Anna Kirk and Leonard went down in order to stifle the rally.
The Buckeyes took their first lead of the weekend on Prantl’s double up the middle to bring in freshman Bri Betschel and Bayne in the fifth inning. This lead did not last long, though, after Michigan’s Blanco sent a booming three-run homer over the center-field fence.
Heading into the final two innings behind two runs, OSU could not jumpstart a late rally, handing Michigan a 3-0 weekend and another notch in the rivalry history.
OSU is scheduled to take on the Ohio Bobcats in another midweek, intrastate doubleheader Tuesday before returning home for a series with Purdue from Friday to Sunday. The first game against the Bobcats is set to begin at 4:30 p.m. in Athens, Ohio.